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  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel (2nd left) of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads from Jenson Button (left) of Great Britain and McLaren towards the first corner at the start of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, center, leads the field into Turn One at the first lap during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads from Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren and Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren at the start of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany leads the field into a corner at the first lap of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing locks up as he drives on his way finishing third to secure his second F1 World Drivers Championship during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates in front of team mates after finishing third to secure his second F1 World Drivers Championship during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
  • Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates in front of team members after finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix to clinch the Formula One drivers championship, at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with team mates in the pitlane after finishing third to secure his second F1 World Drivers Championship during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 09: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme after finishing third to secure his second F1 World Drivers Championship during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 9, 2011 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • El alem�n Sebastian Vettel, de la escuder�a Red Bull, besa su trofeo despu�s de ganar el bicampeonato de la F�rmula Uno, en Suzuka, Jap�n, el domingo 9 de octubre de 2011. (Foto AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, waves with McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain, center, and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain on the podium after the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. Vettel finished third in the race to clinch the Formula One drivers championship. Button won the Japanese Grand Prix and Alonso finished second. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, center, celebrates with champagne with McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain, right, and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain on the podium after the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. Vettel finished third in the race to clinch the Formula One drivers championship. Button won the Japanese Grand Prix and Alonso finished second. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
  • McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata after winning the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain , center, and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, attend the press conference after the Japan Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
If one trend could sum up the 2011 Formula One World Championship so far, it would surely be the domination of Sebastian Vettel. The reigning champion has put up an unsurpassed fight to defend his title, claiming pole position eleven out of fourteen races so far this season, and turning them into nine checkered flags. In fact, Vettel has finished on the podium at every grand prix this season but one, having finished fourth at his home race in Germany.

On the home stretch of such a dominant campaign, and with five races still to go before the end of the season, Vettel's lead had grown so insurmountable as to have practically crowned him World Champion already. Almost, anyway, as just one point would be all he'd need to lock up the title in Japan. And if Jenson Button – his closest rival – would not win the race, Vettel wouldn't even need that point. It was pretty much a given, then, that Vettel would claim the title for the second year running. But his rivals wouldn't make it easy for him. Follow the jump to read how it went down.
Saturday's qualifying once again set the stage here at Suzuka, with Vettel taking pole position once more. Beside him, though, lined up Jenson Button, the one driver who could postpone the inevitable, having set his time less than one hundredth of a second behind Vettel's. Hamilton qualified third after a Q3 mishap, followed by Massa and Alonso, Webber, Schumacher, Senna, Petrov and Kobayashi to round out the top ten. Nico Rosberg, having failed to make it to qualifying, started near the back of the grid in 23rd place.



Vettel showed no sign of easing into his title when he nearly punted Button off the track from the starting line. The incident was investigated by the race stewards but no penalty was given. That left Button in third behind his teammate Hamilton, who followed Vettel around the opening laps in what was a race start otherwise largely without incident.

The first round of pit stops came at lap 9 on a track that is particularly hard on tires. Aside from a close-fought battle towards the middle of the pack between Maldonado, Alguersuari and Kobayashi (who suffered a dismal start) for 13th position, little transpired until the second round of pit stops came around lap 20.

Vettel and Webber headed in to the Red Bull pit box in tandem, but while the crew dispatched them in quick succession, it wasn't quick enough: Button pitted soon after and rejoined to take the lead from Vettel.

Massa and Hamilton played out their animosity once again around lap 22 as the two had a minor collision in the chicane, spreading debris that saw the safety car deployed for three laps. This incident, too, was investigated, but no penalty was meted out.



Sutil and Rosberg had closed in on Petrov in tenth place around lap 30, but both managed to get by – Sutil in impressive style around the outside into turn 1.

With just eight seconds covering the top six places, Vettel pitted from second place to rejoin way down in eleventh, forcing him to fight his way back up the field through frustratingly heavy traffic. After Button followed for his third stop, he rejoined in third, well ahead of Vettel. Alonso then pitted from the lead and passed Vettel, too. The defending champion chased Alonso but couldn't get by as the Ferrari closed the gap on Button in the lead.

Across the line, Button took the checkered flag, which would have been enough to postpone Vettel's coronation had the German not come in third place behind Alonso, who took his eighth podium of the season. And so Button hoisted the first-place trophy as Vettel claimed his second consecutive World Championship. With that, Vettel becomes the youngest multiple World Champion in F1 history, adding that accolade to a resume that has already seen him become youngest World Champion, youngest runner-up, race leader, points scorer, podium finisher, pole sitter and race winner in the history of the sport.




And so we sail from Japan to South Korea, for the sixteenth of nineteen races on the calendar, with the Championship already decided. But with Button, Alonso and Webber close together in the standings with 210, 202 and 194 points, respectively, who will emerge as runner-up by season's end? Join us in one week's time as the battle continues.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      MotionDesigner
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not that it mattered much, since Button won anyway and Vettel was going to win the Championship regardless, but Vettel should have been penalized for shoving Button into the grass at the start. That was way too blatant. But he's Sebastian Vettel and he always acts like a weasel and gets away with it.
      Kent Kangley
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is good news for fans of Gran Turismo 5. Last week, Kazunori Yamauchi tweeted that if Vettel won the championship in Japan, then everyone playing GT5 would get the Red Bull X2010 car in the game for free. He's already made good on it. Just log in and get it. But the offer is only good for a week.
        Krishan Mistry
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kent Kangley
        Kinda sucks for those that had to earn or complete the Vettel Challenge for that car, but at least they will be able to control an F1 killing monster better than n00bs who arent that far in the game and find a free X2010 in their garage.
      Jules
      • 3 Years Ago
      This happens because FIA is so desperately trying to even things out that everytime they introduce some new stupid rule to improve overtaking possibilities, one-two teams come up with radical solutions that put them ahead of the pack. it happened with Ferrari in the Schumacher era and it's happening now with Red Bull
        Agilis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jules
        What solution did Red Bull come up with that no other teams, especially Ferrari and McClaren, can replicate or match? And why are the other teams not complaining about Red Bull's dominating performance like they did with Ferrari?
      WatchF1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sorry guys. I didn't get onto Autoblog until tonight, BECAUSE I wanted to first watch the race. No Internet. No social media until you see the race, or you risk the chance of a spoiler. Give the guy a break.
      spencermfi
      • 3 Years Ago
      Argh! You realize the title of your article is a major spoiler, right?
        Eric
        • 3 Years Ago
        @spencermfi
        I agree!!
        Pdexter
        • 3 Years Ago
        @spencermfi
        It kind of is, but really? Vettel needed one point and nobody is expecting Vettel not to be in top positions.
        Temple
        • 3 Years Ago
        @spencermfi
        Not really. The only way that Vettel could have failed to win the championship in Japan is if Button came in first place and Vettel failed to score a point. Every other scenario has Vettel winning the championship. Basically the only thing that the title gives away is that Vettel scored within the top ten.
        meah
        • 3 Years Ago
        @spencermfi
        yeah this title is sucks, thanks for the spoiler
      Autoblogist
      • 3 Years Ago
      WTH, man, I just finished watching this race, saw the title this morning and was pissed. A simple question mark at the end of the title would've been enough. I know the chance of Vettlel not getting a point was .00001% ,but AB could've been more courteous.
        Soccer Mom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        The event has happened already and it is a thing of the past. Writing about it is like writing about Obama becoming a president in 2008 - there isn't anything to spoil. You recording a race and wanting to pretend that you are watching it "real-time" is your personal choice and the world shouldn't stop so that you could catch up to the latest events. Stop whining about spoilers. If you want to pretend that something hasn't happened and you are watching it "real-time", isolate yourself in a basement. Going to a public site, which often posts the latest news, and complaining about "spoiling your fun" is plain rude and selfish.
          Autoblogist
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Soccer Mom
          First off, shut your mouth. The race didn't air until this afternoon, stateside, unless you were one of 3 people to wake up in the middle of the night to watch it(sorry like most people I have a job and a life outside of F1) Second the world doesn't have to stop to not giveaway the results in the title of the article.
        Soccer Mom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        Congratulations on having a job! This is a big thing in one's life. Regardless of your employment status, no one really cares about whether you got a chance to watch something on time. Coming to a news site and whining about receiving news with stance of "how could you do it to me" is puerile, rude and, quite frankly, stupid.
        nismokid02
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        Haha, seriously, autoblog is just trolling. But why would you visit a auto website if you haven't watched the race yet?! Don't go looking to be disappointed.
      Pj Taintz
      • 3 Years Ago
      you know you f1 fans complain about how boring nascar is because they drive in circles, but comeon, same winner in all but 1 race?? THAT to me is boring
        MotionDesigner
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        Dude are you serious? The FIA doesn't choose who they want to win, it's out of their control and up to the drivers. Sebastian Vettel just happened to dominate this season. With NASCAR, you KNOW they do nothing but drive in circles. Huge difference.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        So then watch Superleague Formula: all the cars are exactly the same.
      handsanda
      • 3 Years Ago
      Damn right spoiler!
      arcoril
      • 3 Years Ago
      What an awful title, Noah. Way to spoil things.
      Jules
      • 3 Years Ago
      considering Vettel hadn't exactly the champtionship in the bag at the beginning of the race, the title alone sort of spoiled it, especially since Button was in the lead during the race...
      EuropaCar
      • 3 Years Ago
      um the spoiler is in the freakin title are you serious?
        onewayroll
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EuropaCar
        It's not a spoiler when all he needed was one point to win.
          EuropaCar
          • 3 Years Ago
          @onewayroll
          as the fan of another driver on the grid, I still had hope that something just might happen... However unlikely that would be, it's not over till it's over. how can you defend a spoiler in any form
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        askroon
        • 3 Years Ago
        Good for her, but not everyone is up to doing nude webcam shows
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